Paternity leave - bane or boon for the office?

By Robert Half on 9 February 2015

These days, caring for junior is no longer solely a mother’s job. Is it time to relook company policies to make it easier for working fathers to apply for paternity leave?

Paternity leave is an unnecessarily sensitive subject in the office. But it really shouldn’t be. The traditional notion of working dads and stay-at-home mothers has long become obsolete in the corporate world, so it’s about time for policy-makers in companies everywhere to rethink their stand on paternity leave. The rise of the modern career woman suggests that more and more, the lines distinguishing traditional gender roles are becoming blurred, even here in Asia. Men are expected to have a hand in raising their children, not just leave it to their spouses. So why shouldn’t fathers be able to love what they do at work, and maintain a work life balance at the same time?

Empathetic employers make a difference

Employers and companies often have a big part to play in an employee’s family life. While it’s true that happy employees are often more productive at work, one of the biggest reasons to take care of staff well-being is so they don’t leave for an organisation that does. After all, a high retention rate helps the company to avoid spending time and resources on hiring and training new recruits. Employers can do their part by being vocal about encouraging men to take leave and assuring employees that their careers will not suffer in doing so.

Leaders in organisations should also try to recognise and dispel unspoken fears when prospective fathers consider going on paternity leave.

Working fathers often face an unnecessary dilemma

While colleagues may be quick to offer congratulations when a new child arrives, it may be the same people who raise questions about dedication and commitment to work when a long stretch of leave is taken. When paternity leave isn’t a common part of a company’s culture, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of employers to create an environment where employees can feel at ease about having to go on leave for childcare reasons.

In some cases, some men may end up not taking the full stretch of paternity leave because of work obligations, even if they’re contractually entitled to do so.

It shouldn’t be a privilege, but an entitlement.

Employers need to realise that potential male hires intending to start families will delve deep into a company’s policies concerning paternity leave and relevant benefits before accepting the job. To attract top talent who may place family as priority, employers may want to improve or implement more pro-family benefits. Highly-competent staff is in demand everywhere, so your company policies will definitely be compared to another company’s when they are considering job offers.

Healthy corporate cultures acknowledge the value of family time, and happy employees will naturally be more loyal to a company that’s considerate of their lifestyle needs outside of work. There’s a whole host of benefits to having pro-family policies in place, and the pros will really help your employees stay loyal and love what they do.

Create a place for employees to love what they do.

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